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The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals | [Michael Pollan]

The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

"What should we have for dinner?" To one degree or another, this simple question assails any creature faced with a wide choice of things to eat. Anthropologists call it the omnivore's dilemma. Choosing from among the countless potential foods nature offers, humans have had to learn what is safe, and what isn't. Today, as America confronts what can only be described as a national eating disorder, the omnivore's dilemma has returned with an atavistic vengeance.
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Publisher's Summary

The best-selling author of The Botany of Desire explores the ecology of eating to unveil why we consume what we consume in the 21st century.

"What should we have for dinner?" To one degree or another, this simple question assails any creature faced with a wide choice of things to eat. Anthropologists call it the omnivore's dilemma. Choosing from among the countless potential foods nature offers, humans have had to learn what is safe, and what isn't, which mushrooms should be avoided, for example, and which berries we can enjoy. Today, as America confronts what can only be described as a national eating disorder, the omnivore's dilemma has returned with an atavistic vengeance.

The cornucopia of the modern American supermarket and fast-food outlet has thrown us back on a bewildering landscape where we once again have to worry about which of those tasty-looking morsels might kill us. At the same time we're realizing that our food choices also have profound implications for the health of our environment. The Omnivore's Dilemma is best-selling author Michael Pollan's brilliant and eye-opening exploration of these little-known but vitally important dimensions of eating in America.

We are indeed what we eat, and what we eat remakes the world. A society of voracious and increasingly confused omnivores, we are just beginning to recognize the profound consequences of the simplest everyday food choices, both for ourselves and for the natural world. The Omnivore's Dilemma is a long-overdue book and one that will become known for bringing a completely fresh perspective to a question as ordinary and yet momentous as "What shall we have for dinner?"

©2006 Michael Pollan; (P)2006 Penguin Audio

What the Critics Say

  • National Book Critics Circle 2006 Award Finalist, Nonfiction

"Remarkably clearheaded book....A fascinating journey up and down the food chain." (Publishers Weekly)
"His supermeticulous reporting is the book's strength - you're not likely to get a better explanation of where your food comes from....In an uncommonly good year for American food writing, this is a book that stands out." (The New York Times Book Review)
"Completely charming." (Nora Ephron)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (3422 )
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  •  
    Mark Hollister, CA, USA 07-24-06
    Mark Hollister, CA, USA 07-24-06 Member Since 2003

    I LOVE BOOKS! I have a service business (large salon). 'What are you reading' is heard all day everyday.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Dilemma? LET'S EAT!!"

    The intimate details of the author’s experiences make this a difficult review. I’ve recommended this book more often and for more reasons than I can mention. Its entertainment value alone is worth the price of admission.. The knowledge gathered and imparted by the author is fascinating at times, disturbing at others. One of my measures of a good book is its ability to spank my naivete. In other words, the more often I can honestly say, “I didn’t know that”… the greater the book. Surprisingly, I was spanked quit often throughout. If you enjoyed “Super Size ME” or “Fast Food Nation” you’ll really like The Omnivore’s Dilemma.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Edith Oakland, CA, United States 08-03-09
    Edith Oakland, CA, United States 08-03-09 Member Since 2005
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    "Ho Hum"

    There was some interesting factual material here puffed up with way too much tiresome, self-indulgent fluff. Pollan does not convince me that the "dilemma" is what is crucial to our nutritional lives. And I'm sorry, but Scott Brick is an extremely annoying narrator. I will never buy any book ready by him again.

    7 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    john challenger Winnetka, Illinois USA 05-05-13
    john challenger Winnetka, Illinois USA 05-05-13
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    2
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    "One note book with a supercilious reader."
    Would you try another book from Michael Pollan and/or Scott Brick?

    No


    What was most disappointing about Michael Pollan’s story?

    No balance.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Scott Brick?

    don't know


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Annoyment


    Any additional comments?

    Thought I should put the put the book down early on, but didn't, and finally and thankfully stopped about half way through.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    01-17-11
    01-17-11 Member Since 2010
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    "so boring"

    I felt like each of the 3 points being made could have been done so in half the space. The style of writing bludgeons you over the head. I understand and appreciate the arguments he makes; however, I was frequently wishing he would move on to the next point. Instead, I felt like I was stuck in argument purgatory.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charles Newton, MA, USA 06-23-10
    Charles Newton, MA, USA 06-23-10 Member Since 2006
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    "my dilemma"

    love the book. after listening you learn 2 things. First, corn is the route of all our problems. Second, I don't really want to eat meat any more, but not sure veggies are that good for you.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Craig Altus ok 01-23-10
    Craig Altus ok 01-23-10 Member Since 2005
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    "This one hurt"

    Who is the audience for this book? It is not an academic work yet not a book a general audience would enjoy. It felt like I was listening to Pollan's journal as he investigated various subjects for a research paper. I found it astonishing he could turn a short trip to an Iowa corn farm, a weeklong trip to Polyface farm, and a couple of hunting trips into such a long book. The flowery language, particularly through the hunting expeditions just went on and on and on. I pride myself in getting through all my book selections and did get through this book, however finishing it was a supreme test of stamina; it definitely hurt more than most - a textbook on nutrition would be more engaging. No answers given here and the insights seemed specific only to Pollan.
    The narrator is also used for too many of Audible's books and is characterless.

    6 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vicki walla, WA, USA 12-28-09
    Vicki walla, WA, USA 12-28-09
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    "Omnivore's a must listen"

    For everyone who is tired of living in the dark... this book is a must read/listen. Michael Pollan digs deep into the under belly of our industrialized food world we live in today and tells the truth. The truth is after you hear this book you will change your eating habits forever... or at least think before you put food into your mouth. I would and will recommend this book to all who will listen.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Rose Palo Alto, CA, USA 12-26-09
    S. Rose Palo Alto, CA, USA 12-26-09 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    ""Corn"ucopia, literally..."

    Although, I had my eye on reading this book for some time I ended up having to read this book for class. Audiobook was a big time saver during my morning commute. Book was incredibly dense at times, for instance the segment on corn seemed to go on for hours. However, I enjoyed the segments on Polyface farm and the foraging/ hunting expeditions with Angelo. Also of note is the book has many key characters that are in an excellent documentary film called FOOD INC.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Klaus APO , AE, USA 10-06-07
    Klaus APO , AE, USA 10-06-07
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    "wake up, obese America"

    Superbly written, albeit a bit long-winded in places. The narrator does have some of the previously mentioned "whiney" attributes, however, his command of accentuation and short stops in long sentences more than makes up for any shortcomings.
    This book should scare the heck out of us, I am disgusted with the typical fat American way of thinking when it comes to food: make it cheap, make the portions huge, and I really don't care about the consequences.
    I can only say that I am overjoyed to live in Europe, where I have choices regarding purchasing food, and I am not forced to consume mass-produced, hormone and antibiotic-laden material.
    The part on hunting and gathering, which comprises about a third of the book, could be a bit shorter but overall this is an excellent 'read' (listen).

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hannes cupertino, CA, United States 03-22-07
    Hannes cupertino, CA, United States 03-22-07 Member Since 2003
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    "Good news and bad news"

    Good news is that the actual information within this book is extremely interesting. The bad news is that it could be stated in about 1/10th the words. The book is a chatty expose of the author's well-meaning but somewhat self-centered preoccupations, thoughts, and feelings, in a trend that just gets worse and worse as the book proceeds. Juice to squeeze ratio in this sense, toward the end of the book as just about nil. As it ground to the end, I found myself saying over and over...I really don't care what you are turning over in your mind....just give me the facts. The narration is OK...not great and a bit pathetic in the various watered down accents (country, Italian, etc.)...would have just preferred a straight read, but not bad.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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